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Why Chhada is the hottest designer..
Maitreyee Handique |
September 24, 2003
The 50-something Chandu Chhada is not your regular Page Three celebrity. And the India-born, Hong Kong-based architect and interior designer is seldom in the news.
But he's among hospitality industry's most sought-after designers having created and renovated at least 70 premium hotel properties.
"I am an artist," declares Chhada, who found Chhada, Siembieda & Associates with American partner Don Siembieda in the 80s. Today the company handles projects worth $200 million per annum.
While Chhada made the Raj splendour fashionable by revamping Delhi's Imperial Hotel two years ago, it's the four-year-old Ananda Spa & Resorts in Tehri Garhwal that he sees as a fulfillment of a 20-year-old dream.
"It has been a project of the heart. For years, I had wanted to set up a spa in India and checked out many places in the country before settling on Tehri Garhwal," says Chhada who personally supervised the Ananda Spa project in 1999.
And now, says the hotel designer, Ananda need no longer be only in the Himalayas. Plans are afoot to set up two similar resorts -- one each in Mauritius and Thailand.
"We have already located a one kilometre-long fine beach property in Mauritius. It will be a $60-80 million project and will be called Ananda Maurice. It will be ready in 2005," informs Chhada, who owns a minority stake in Ananda Resort & Spa.
The other spa is expected to come up in Phuket, Thailand, as part of the $600-million Royal Phuket Marina township project, which will also have a club house, yacht house, five-star villas, apartments and restaurants spread over five acres of land.
Chhada's firm has bagged the designing contract for the entire Marina project.
However, Thailand's Ananda Spa will be run by Delhi-based Indian Hotels & Health Resorts promoted by hoteliers G K Khanna and sons Ashok and Rajeev, Ghanshyam Sheth and Parmeshwar Godrej.
With offices in Hong Kong, Mauritius and Australia and projects spanning from Vietnam to Germany, Chhada's hands are currently full. Last fortnight, he was in the capital to oversee the renovation of Kanishka Hotel.
The government sold off the ITDC property to Delhi-based Eros Group in a Rs 106-crore (Rs 1.06 billion) deal last year. From Delhi he flew off to Beijing to "hand over" The Palace Beijing, a Peninsula group hotel to the builders.
He has also been commissioned to design the interiors of a 260-room ITC Maurya in Parel, Mumbai.
Clearly, despite investing 30 years in the hotel design industry, Chandu Chhada shows no signs of slowing down.
In the past, he worked on several prestigious hotel projects like Four Seasons in New York, Kahala Hilton in Hawaii, the Regent Hong Kong and The Windsor in Melbourne, among others.
Besides executing five Oberoi properties -- four in India and one in Bali, Chhada has undertaken five Hilton International projects and an equal number of The Regent properties in Asia and Australia.
"If Indian can be known for IT, it can be known for interior planning too," says Chhada, an architecture graduate from Academy of Architecture in Mumbai, who first landed a job as interior designer at Dale Keller & Associates in Hong Kong after his graduation in the 70s.So what is Chhada's trademark in hotel space? "Trends are only trendy. I believe in timelessness, a building that's based on function and ages gracefully and an architecture that gives a sense of comfort. Every project I take on around the world I try to draw on local influences," he says.